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Foreign Workers in Poland: Most Rely on Employer Housing, Seeking Better Standards and Privacy

REAL ESTATEForeign Workers in Poland: Most Rely on Employer Housing, Seeking Better Standards and Privacy

Almost half of the income-earning immigrants arriving to work in Poland take advantage of accommodation provided by employers. One in three seeks it independently. Although the standard of workers’ accommodation is improving year by year, about 20 percent of foreigners working in Poland are not satisfied with it. These are the findings from the research “Foreign Worker. Accommodation in Poland”. The most troublesome issues for them are the high number of residents and the shared kitchen or bathroom. The majority declare that multi-person workers’ lodgings are a temporary solution for them and in the future, they would like to replace it with single or double rooms. The market for such properties is gaining importance with increasing labor migration, and with it comes professionalization.

“Immigrants working in our country often live in lodgings provided for them by the employer. The level of financing, co-financing of this accommodation obviously depends on what the job offer is and sometimes differs,” says Maria Dąbrowska, President of RentLito. “People coming to work really appreciate the employer’s help in finding the first accommodation, later they sometimes want to look for it on their own. However, when it comes to the first rental, there is a very strong group here that believes that one of the main factors of choosing a place is whether the employer will also help them with accommodation.”

Accommodation that gives a sense of security and stability in a foreign country is a key factor for foreigners in committing to employment. From the study conducted by EWL Group, RentLito and the University of Warsaw’s Eastern Europe Studies, it turns out that 47 percent of income-earning immigrants in Poland benefited from the help of an employer or employment agency in finding accommodation. For comparison, 31 percent found it independently, and every fifth already had accommodation at the time of employment. The vast majority of respondents are satisfied with the support of the employer or the employment agency in searching for accommodation.

“It all depends on the stage of emigration these people were on,” says Rafał Mróz, Chief Operating Officer of EWL Group. “The status of the immigrant has changed slightly, before it was more American, meaning they lived where they worked, while after some time in Poland, this status has polonized and rather, labor immigrants have started to show this Polish approach, that is, we work where we live.”

Both the quality of accommodation and the distance from work are significant factors for immigrants, often deciding on the place of employment. Most of the surveyed choose to live near their place of employment. 38 percent commute to work in less than 15 minutes, a similar percentage can walk to work in the same amount of time. In turn, 28 percent claim commuting takes them more than a quarter of an hour.

“No matter whether on foot, public transport, or transportation provided by the employer, but 15 minutes, which is very close, is the maximum a worker will accept to still be happy. They care about having time for work and earning money, this is why they came here, and not to commute and spend time in transit between work and accommodation,” says Maria Dąbrowska.

42 percent of immigrants live in Poland in blocks of flats or tenements, i.e. among Poles, which is important in the context of integrating migrants with society. Every third cross-border worker lives in a worker’s hotel. This percentage could decrease year by year as foreigners adapt increasingly to the Polish labor market.

The study also shows that immigrants live in an increasingly higher standard.

“This is one of the key findings from our report,” emphasizes Maria Dąbrowska. “If a few years ago the average room size was four to six people per room, the standard lodging, nowadays the absolute majority. Nearly 75 percent of respondents live in rooms for two, up to four people.”

However, every fifth foreigner working in our country is not satisfied with housing standards. 68 percent of immigrants working in Poland assess the standard of accommodation in our country as average, and 13 percent – as high. The most troublesome factors in the residence include: a large number of residents, a shared kitchen and bathroom, and frequent rotation of roommates.

“There is no point in hiding that there are still situations on the market where there are even six people per room, but this makes the job offer from the employer drop very much in the hierarchy due to the accommodation,” says Rafał Mróz. “Labor immigrants are primarily concerned with too many people in the room or inappropriate people in the room because often, especially at the beginning of their migration journey, they do not have full control over this. Migrants often decide to look for a room themselves or with a group of friends who they met at work, or together with their family, if they arrived with one, after the initial period of living in workers’ lodging, which is too intimate and lacks privacy.”

Almost half of the respondents declared that in the current place of accommodation in Poland, they live in single or double rooms. Nearly a third of immigrants live in a three-person room, and more than a quarter of respondents live in rooms occupied by more than three people. At the same time, 59 percent of respondents are ready to pay more to live in better conditions.

“Aspirationally, if we ask about the future, where would they like to live and for what are they willing to pay in the following years, the room size gets even smaller, because we are talking about one or two-person rooms,” says Maria Dąbrowska.

Almost three-quarters of foreigners employed in our country perceive workers’ accommodation as a temporary solution at the beginning of their employment in Poland. Its advantages are price availability and proximity to the workplace, but over time the migrants expect more living space and privacy, which determine their choice.

Experts emphasize that the last five years have brought major changes in the workers’ accommodation market, once perceived as the periphery of the real estate market, operating in an unprofessional way. Due to the increasing interest in this segment among employers, it has recently become an object of interest for investors and real estate experts. It is increasingly being talked about as an equal, professional segment of the market, alongside long-term rentals or hotels. The last few years also initiated the concentration of the market, investors, and intermediaries focusing on this sector.

Nearly 80 percent of the 400 people surveyed were Ukrainians, mostly women. 9 percent are citizens of Belarus, 4 percent – Moldova, 2 percent – Georgia and India. The remaining countries of origin – Russia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan – were represented by 1 percent of respondents.

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